I've lived in Selma, Alabama for the last three years, several miles away from hurricanes and tropical storms.
During a 26-year journalistic career with The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi, names like Ivan, George and Katrina are forever locked inside my head.
Thought I was done with hurricanes.
Not so fast.
Last year, Hurricane Zeta roared through the Black Belt and damaged buildings in Selma and knocked off power for three days during Halloween week.
Sixteen years after Hurricane Katrina stamped itself in my life, Hurricane Ida may leave a mark.
Co-workers are obsessed with Ida, as if they resided on the Coasts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi and in the danger of losing their homes.
The Black Belt won't be impacted by Ida, except heavy rainstorms and possible tornadoes over the next three days.
In this area, we're used to tornadoes and flooding roads.
I've got a Pulitzer as part of The Sun Herald's coverage of Katrina in 2006. While I am proud of the honor, I rarely discuss that unless people ask me.
I don't mind. It's part of my life on the Gulf States, where I don't live anymore.
I've been in the newspaper business for 29 years and one of my goals was realized last week.
I was named Managing Editor of The Selma Times-Journal. When I became a reporter at The Biloxi Sun Herald in 1992, my ambition was to move up the newspaper chain.
While several of my contemporaries quickly became editors within the first 10 years of their careers, I remained at the same spot.
Doubts began to pop inside my head. In 2014, I finally moved up and became Sports Lede (Sports Editor) at the Sun Herald.
Four years later, I got laid off and eventually landed at The Selma Times-Journal as News Editor. I got promoted three years later. Once I clean up the mess the person I'm replacing, I'll be able to navigate a direction alongside my successor.
The other dream of mine is becoming a working screenwriter, a difficult task. I'll continue to pursue that impossible goal.
Seven years ago, I decided to pursue the most difficult stage of my professional writing career.
The odds are against me having success as a screenwriter. I read somewhere that only two percent make it as a screenwriter, meaning 98 percent probability that I fail.
I've got no problem with that. I've battled adversity my whole life, especially since entering the world on October 18, 1969 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I learned how to read and write at the age of four and was gifted, but most of the family made fun of my talents and did not support me.
Spiritually, God has successfully guided me every step of the way. I don't understand it sometimes, but he always find me for me to survive. I've learned over the years when I prayed, God gives me what I need to make it. I eventually learned that God allows to hang me in there with what I've got. My hometown church and the district connected to it always supported my endeavors growing up. I never found that once I left the hometown and pursued a newspaper career.
Man made, it's a different story. I've found success as a screenwriter, winning 34 best screenplay awards over the last few years.
When I post my winnings on Facebook, I rarely get over 100 likes and comments. That's a low number, especially since I have 3,000 friends. Upon further review, I see former high school and college classmates pile up and like what our fellow friends post.
It felt like high school and college all over again. Getting my ass kicked two straight years by the eventual No. 1 college football prospect in Alabama for the Class of 1987, only to see a couple of guys do nothing and make the traveling squad.
I am not in the most distinguished fraternity, but Phi Beta Sigma can battle with any damn Greek organization around. Ask Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, a pair of Pro Football Hall of Famers and multi-Super Bowl winners.
Several people in the area where I currently work are more supportive than the people I've known for years and that's a shame.
I've formed two circles, one for family and the other with friends, who have supported my endeavors either through Facebook or vocally. Each group is small.
If I get the break of a lifetime and win an Oscar or similar award (3 classmates predicted I would), the support group will get their shout-out. Frontrunners and people ride on bandwagons will not be invited.
Memorial Day has remained an important holiday throughout the test of time.
The holiday on the last Monday of May honors the deceased military members and it still doesn't get enough credit.
People around the country use the Monday off from work cooking chicken, ribs, and burgers on a grill and not appreciate the military.
Awards season is always an exciting time for me. From the SAG to the BAFTA and ending with the Academy Awards, known worldwide as the Oscars.
The odds of me crashing the party as a award-nominated screenwriter are a zillion to one. I'd need the break of a lifetime to get the screenplay optioned, then morph into a Academy Award nominated screenwriter.
As it stands, I was nominated for two awards: Golden Merloin Award and Sun of the East Award.
The Golden Merloin Award is a silver trophy given annually by the World Film Carnival-Singapore.
The Sun of the East honor is part of the Tagore International Film Festival.
While I did not win those awards, I was thrilled to get honored. Both are registered in the International Movie Database (IMDB).
Every actor, writer, director and producer strive to get that credit with IMDB because movie studio executives often the site for talent. All four of my feature screenplays, False Start, Getting the Boot, Passed Over and Legal Passion, have a credit on IMDB.
Being part of IMDB is one of many steps toward to get the film optioned, then produced and sent to film festivals.
The 2021 version of Easter holds a special place in my heart. Fixing baskets with Reese Cup Eggs, bunnies, and carrots beside a gift is always fun. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ symbolizes the holiday that begins with Mardi Gras six weeks earlier, followed by Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Good Friday.
It was the first holiday I spent with the family since January 2020, New Year's Day watching Alabama beat Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, setting the stage for another national championship under coach Nick Saban.
During the visit with family, I also found the time to work on my current feature screenplay, an untitled script as the sequel to the award-winning False Start.
With the future uncertain, I look forward to the next holiday, Memorial Day.
Valentine's Day should become an official Federal holiday. Making February 14th a national holiday is probably the only thing Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and Congress could agree on.
Visions of a man dropping off sweet-scented red roses and a box of delectable chocolates or Peanut Butter Cups to a beautiful woman never gets old.
For me, I made Valentine's Day into a weekend since the holiday fell on a Friday. I dropped off red roses, a championship shirt and box of Reese's Peanut Butter cups to my special woman.
Another tradition is lunch with one of my girls. She received a large bag filled with Reese Cup and female cosmetics.
I even got a unexpected gift: a Golden Merloin Award nomination for best feature script by the World Film Carnival Singapore. Legal Passion and False Start are up for the top award.
A Merlion is mythical animal, half lion and half fish.
We're 15 days into 2021 and I'm already tired of it. The uncontrollable chaos in the world and we get a new President next week, but nothing changes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented me from spending time with the love of my life. For the last 10 months, finding "tender moments alone'' have proven difficult. The goal in the spring was to establish a relationship and see where it went. The plan backfired as time quickly passed and before I knew it, school was about to start.
It sucks when the only time you spend together was getting a ride to work while tires and struts are put on your car. You can't propose from the passenger side.
Things unraveled when your mate gets the coronavirus. I'm grateful not to get the virus because we don't live together.
I still believe that we will come together soon, masks or not. The COVID-19 pandemic proved one thing: she means a lot to me.
As a child, I always looked forward to Christmas Day. I'd go to sleep at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve with the goal of waking up after midnight to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. To see what gifts I had under the tree left by Santa Claus.
By the time I turned 10, several weeks after my younger brother arrived to Cottondale, Alabama on Labor Day weekend 1979, I realized that a jolly white man wearing a red and white suit riding a sleigh led by a red-nosed reindeer did not exist.
While everyone was counting sheep, I woke up and headed into the living room. I caught my mother slipping my bicycle under the tree. I didn't confront her. I went back to bed and heard her scream, "Santa Claus just came.'
I wasn't mad. I was grateful to get presents even under the pretense. The traditional Christmas tradition, equipped with Santa Claus, his wife, reindeer, elves, mistletoe and Frosty the Snowman, will remain in my heart forever.
By 1 p.m., we'd be eating turkey, dressing surrounded by cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and hot buttered rolls with pound cake.
Unfortunately, Christmas has lot that symbolism across the country. The holiday has become too commercialized.
I got a big dose of that for Christmas 2020. I fought off cold, windy rain to make a special for someone who lives three hours from me. We have a standing tradition where I get a call after midnight saying the gifts were open and they loved it. The call came nearly at 1:30 a.m., which I returned to sleep after awaking up at 10:45 p.m. and returned to sleep at 1 a.m. I didn't get a standard 'I like the gift' message.
From where I sit, I'm insulted. I know people make mistakes, but that person knows how much I don't tolerate getting disrespected. I informed the person that I won't go the ''extra mile" anymore and will make changes to my will.
Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!
JK Jones' writing career began as a junior at Holt High in 1986 as as Sports Editor of the Purple Reign, the school's newspaper until graduating in 1988. It opened the door to a long and successful sports writing career. As an author, several of Jones' E-books were best sellers. Jones has shown promise during the early stages of screenwriting. Jones' short screenplay, Instant Replay, was accepted by the Cannes Latitude Film Festival in 2016. Jones' most recent screenplay, False Start, was selected to the Chihuahua International Film Festival in November, 2019. For more information, visit https://www.scriptrevolution.com/profiles/jk-jones.